Add to My Yahoo!

Cheney pushed for domestic phonecall taps after 9/11

Published: Saturday May 13, 2006

Print This | Email This

"In the weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, Vice President Dick Cheney and his top legal adviser argued that the National Security Agency should intercept purely domestic telephone calls and e-mail messages without warrants in the hunt for terrorists, according to two senior intelligence officials," begins a front page story set for Sunday's New York Times.

But, according to the Times, the NSA "ultimately prevailed."

Excerpts from the article written by Scott Shane:


But N.S.A. lawyers, trained in the agency's strict rules against domestic spying and reluctant to approve any warrantless eavesdropping, insisted that it should be limited to communications into and out of the country, said the officials, who were granted anonymity to discuss the debate inside the Bush administration late in 2001.

The N.S.A.'s position ultimately prevailed. Details have not emerged publicly of how the director of the agency at the time, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, designed the program, persuaded wary N.S.A. officers to accept it and sold the White House on its limits.


For his part, Mr. Cheney helped justify the program with an expansive theory of presidential power, which he explained to traveling reporters a few days after The Times first reported on the program in December.

Mr. Cheney traced his views to his service as chief of staff to President Gerald Ford in the 1970's, when post-Watergate reforms, which included the FISA law, "served to erode the authority I think the president needs to be effective, especially in a national security area."